I’ve been struggling with this whole identity thing lately. Like I had my Florida identity and for some reason that doesn’t seem to be working in Ithaca so I’m trying to find an Ithaca identity and I’m just having a hard time with it.
Let me back track a little bit.
So growing up in Michigan I never really felt like I fit. My brother and sister are so much alike, I always wanted to be just like them so I fit in. I was so awkward, my interests were always younger than my age and kids my age thought I was weird. I remember being in like 5th or 6th grade and I’d ordered a Pokémon drawing book or something from the Scholastic book order and when the teacher called my name to come get it from her desk all the kids in class laughed because it was a Pokémon thing and we were too old for that now. I was so scared of everyone and what they thought of me, I mumbled something about it being for my sister and started dedicating my life to being invisible. I would do whatever I could and like whatever people told me to like so I wouldn’t get made fun of. At least I tried this at school. At home I surrounded myself with video games and my walls were covered in magazine posters of boy bands and song lyrics.
At home I could read my books and watch romantic comedies and talk on the phone with my best friend for hours about how awesome it would be if *NSYNC or the Backstreet Boys just showed up at our houses and asked us to go in tour with them.
I always dreamed of escaping and moving somewhere where I would find more people like me, people who watched High School Musical who weren’t under the age of 10. Who when I said I loved High School Musical wouldn’t be like, “Uh aren’t you a little old for that?” Because no, you’re never too old to watch Zac Efron sing and dance, thank you very much.
I always felt ashamed of the things I loved, felt like I should be acting my age when I didn’t even know what that meant. Hell, I still don’t know what the fuck that means.
When I was applying for colleges and wanted to run away, I was told I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know what that meant either, so I stayed put while everyone I knew grew up and moved away.
Then I decided to do the College Program and only then did I finally find my people. We were all a little weird, all a little awkward, we were from everywhere trying to figure shit out, but we all had one thing in common, we were all working an insane amount of hours in ugly outfits in 100 degree weather with 100% humidity for a cartoon mouse. And after a few rocky months I fell in love.
My confidence grew because I was around people who didn’t tell me I was too old to love Disney. I watched that damn High School Musical show at MGM Studios aka Hollywood Studios SO MANY TIMES. I saw Monique Coleman backstage once and almost DIED. I had a High School Musical purse, I had disney stuffed animals and Disney clothes and I saw FIREWORKS every night and I got to sell glow necklaces and light up Mickey ears and I had a family of Snow Birds in the winter and on Mondays and Tuesdays I worked with the moms who made me feel at home.
I remember when my brother came to visit me, it was in like October I think, I’d been in Florida for a few months. I took him and Nicole and Tiara to Fantasmic! And I was so excited for him to see where I worked and what I did. After the show was over we sat there for a few minutes and watched the people leave, and he was like, “That was really cool.” And it was like my life had meaning, because my brother is so cool and for him to think what I was doing was cool was a big deal.
But over time as Marc and I got older, we started to feel like Florida wasn’t where we should be anymore. I was still me and I still loved my theme parks and my life, but we were growing tired of the heat and our apartments falling apart and we missed being close to family.
And now we’re here, where sometimes I feel like I’m back in high school when my previously confident self casually says something about something I love and I know people think I’m a little weird. I’m struggling to figure out where I fit, where my place is, where I belong. I miss people knowing what I’m talking about when I make references to things.
Sometimes I feel like I’m in that episode of Buffy where the demon takes away all the sound and I talk but no one can hear me and everyone is just moving along and I can’t get anyone to listen.
I’ve been trying so hard not to lose who I am here, and trust me some days it’s tough. Like sometimes I wish I could just be in Diagon Alley in my Hogwarts dress, drinking a frozen butterbeer waving a wand at an umbrella to make it rain. Or eating an eclair in Epcot while leaning against the railing in Italy next to the fountain, waiting for Illuminations to start. Or walking to City Walk to see a movie, followed by a frozen yogurt and in depth movie analysis discussion at Menchie’s.
If you can’t tell, most of my memories revolve around food.
But I have to remember that Wonderland is not real life, and eventually we have to climb out of the rabbit hole and keep moving forward.